Solar energy technology captures the Sun’s light and converts it into clean, renewable electricity. This energy is then sent to the grid and used in homes and businesses.
The manufacturing process of solar panels does create some carbon dioxide emissions, but it’s far less than the emissions from coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants. Widespread use of solar energy would eliminate the need for these power plants, which consume massive amounts of water and create toxic smog.
Reduces Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic cells or concentrated solar power (CSP). When the Sun shines, it loosens electrons in the cells. This creates a direct current that’s transferred into wires and then converted to an alternating current, which can power homes and offices.
Solar energy greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change. Fossil fuel-fired power plants are responsible for significant GHG emissions, but switching to renewable energy like solar cuts these pollutants out of the atmosphere.
A single kilowatt-hour of solar energy can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 100 pounds and eliminate the need to burn coal or fossil fuels at power plants. These emission reductions can make a big difference in communities already dealing with environmental and health concerns caused by fossil fuel use. It is one of the major benefits of solar power utilization.
Solar energy also doesn’t pollute water resources like coal, like other conventional power sources. Since a solar system doesn’t need any outside water to operate, it puts less pressure on the world’s limited supply of clean drinking water.
Renewable energy is better for human health because it can help lower respiratory and cardiovascular disease rates and reduce missed work due to illness. This especially benefits low-income and racialized communities, often disproportionately affected by air pollution. Studies that fail to account for these broader societal impacts can lead to inaccurate valuations of solar energy, which may discourage its adoption.
When fossil fuels like coal and natural gas are burned to produce electricity, they release harmful pollutants into the air. These chemicals can be detrimental to human and animal health. Solar energy, on the other hand, doesn’t create these toxic gases. It also doesn’t use water to produce electricity, which is a huge benefit since the planet’s natural resources are dwindling.
While solar energy does require some water for manufacturing, it is far less than what is needed to generate electricity using nuclear, fossil fuel or hydropower energy sources. The amount of water used by solar energy is also less than what is required for cooling systems at power plants. This can be an important advantage during droughts when conserving as much water as possible is critical.
The Sun’s solar energy is free and infinite, which means it will continue to provide us with clean, renewable energy for a long time. If we harnessed all of the solar energy available in one hour, it could power the world for an entire year!
Solar energy produces minimal pollutants and can dramatically reduce nitrous oxide and sulfur emissions. This can help to improve air quality and prevent several respiratory diseases and other health-related issues, such as chronic bronchitis and asthma.
Reduces Air Pollution
When fossil fuels are burned to produce electricity, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a major contributor to global warming. By switching to solar power, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, making the world safer for plants and animals.
Cleaner air also helps people stay healthy. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), people who switch to solar can see reductions in cases of chronic bronchitis and other respiratory ailments. This can lower the risk of heart disease and other health issues, decreasing absenteeism due to work-related lung problems. Solar adoption can help make a huge difference in the lives of people in low-income and racialized communities more affected by pollution.
Solar panels can generate power at the home level in small, individualized ways with rooftop arrays or be installed as community systems on open fields and parking lots. A standard PV system that produces 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year will cut CO2 emissions by over 100 tons throughout its lifetime, equivalent to driving 1.5 cars off the road or planting 113 trees that absorb carbon for ten years.
Large-scale solar farms can take up significant amounts of land. Still, research is being done to minimize the impact on habitats and biodiversity by locating them in locations that won’t interfere with agricultural pursuits or natural resources. Additionally, solar panels require minimal water for operation, and new manufacturing practices are always being explored to reduce the amount of freshwater used.
Solar energy drastically cuts national grid dependency and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a great alternative to non-renewable fossil fuels, running out as demand increases.
Traditional electricity uses fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, which create harmful gases that are the primary cause of air pollution. The carbon dioxide in those gases can also contribute to global warming and climate change.
Solar power, on the other hand, does not produce any of these pollutants. The only emissions associated with solar energy are those that occur during manufacturing. However, many new processes are being explored to reduce those life-cycle emissions.
In addition, PV systems require very little water for cooling, preserving clean water sources and helping prevent water shortages. This is a big benefit in areas that experience droughts and have limited pristine water reserves.
Additionally, large-scale solar facilities may require significant amounts of land to operate. This is a major concern for environmental advocates, as it can lead to land degradation, habitat loss, and the need to clear trees and grasslands. However, new technologies and efficiencies are being developed to reduce the land required for solar energy facilities. Solar energy adoption helps to mitigate this issue and can also help to decrease the amount of land used for agriculture in other parts of the world.